I’ve noticed something about myself in the last few months that is entirely new and quite disturbing – I’ve become a bystander.
In a recent conversation; I reacted very strongly but also like a caged animal – as in, I wasn’t able to be cogent about my reaction and therefore a little voice inside me said “Leave it, let someone else deal with, eventually it’ll sort itself out”.
Bystanders, by definition, see something and yet do nothing – we become bystanders as a result of living in fear.
In my case I was fearful of the repercussions. Living in fear means that we cannot be brave and if we can’t be brave then, of course, we can’t act with courage. We effectively let go of our power.
Part of letting go of this power comes from being so distressed with a situation or set of circumstances that we totally disengage, I do this. My thinking is that I’m protecting myself from that situation, doing a bit of a Pontius Pilate about the whole thing and washing my hands of any involvement…. this could not be further from the truth, and subconsciously it is so damaging… we can never be successful if we are apathetic.
I have realised that, first and foremost I have to be a true leader of myself, this means knowing what my convictions are and having integrity which is part of having a consistent character, because if we allow ourselves to be led by inconsistent characters we are living as bystanders, and the world cannot take any more bystanders – look around you at all the disruption and dysfunction.
This thinking translates to the wider world, to every single element of our lives. It doesn’t matter if it’s a domestic chat with your partner, a team member about work, a discussion with your boss, your country, even the world!
The scream for leadership is almost primal at the moment, we all view the world leaders as lacking in integrity and therefore characters but we are still acting as bystanders because ultimately, too many people are shrugging their shoulders and expecting the next person to start the decisive action.
Authenticity is the narrative of truth and there’s a reason that people often say ‘the truth will set you free’. I say to my team often that the best tool they have in their kit for work and life is authenticity and that comes from them believing and knowing that they are in a safe space.
I don’t feel safe anywhere at the moment, and it’s changing me. The first step in fixing a problem is recognising it.